Shuriken are small throwing knives used by assassins in Feudal era Japan and China. They were used as part of warriors and assassins equipment in combat and were fast, quiet and reusable.

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  • They can still be found today in martial arts studios and weapon supply stores. They are fast, quiet and reusable! They are the perfect complement to a katana.

Why doesn't anyone use them in the Walking Dead?

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    This just gave me an idea for a Batman/Walking Dead crossover comic. Royal Australian Mint, give me the keys; I have a licence to print money. – James Sheridan Oct 29 '14 at 3:51
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    You're not wrong, people would buy Batman/Walking Dead. Though they would probably be regretting it before long... as for downvotes, I'd dare say it has more to do with the totally impractical nature of surviving a zombocalypse with the help of shuriken. – 22nd Century Fza Oct 29 '14 at 9:36
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    @Finnball Thaddeus has tried to improve your question so people understand it better, he's used the proper name so it's more searchable (to people who know the correct name). It's common practice (and encouraged on SE sites). He's also taken the time to write a very good answer! The other alternative was to simply his the "Vote to Close" button. If you feel he's answered your question then you should accept it (the green tick), if not try editing your question to explain what you're after more clearly. – Liath Oct 29 '14 at 11:50
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    If you feel that strongly about it, you can revert the edit. Thaddeus was within his rights to edit it, but you're also allowed to disagree with it. Many of us disapprove of drastic edits (which this arguably is), and would reject it if it came through the review queue. – phantom42 Oct 29 '14 at 17:32
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    A point about being re-usable: Shuriken are sharp and thrown by hand, so if you are fighting zombies and want to avoid risk of contact with zombie blood, it reduces the appeal of re-using them. – Dronz Oct 30 '14 at 1:14

Most shuriken (ninja stars) are small and lack penetrating power. They are poor weapons against walkers for this primary reason.

While their primary advantage of silence and re-usability are assets in the 'walker apocalypse' they have several disadvantages working against them:

  • They require a great deal of skill to use effectively. So much more so than anyone is able to get any time soon. Their ability to be reused is also questionable because if you miss, you are liable to lose them, particularly in the wild.

  • Against living targets, shuriken work fine because humans feel pain. Shuriken weren't primary weapons in the hands of the warriors who used them, they were meant as secondary distracting weapons, but only if you could hit the target in a vital spot, like a hand or eye. Pain reduces combat effectiveness and can distract living opponents. Walkers aren't able to be distracted and they don't feel pain.

  • Shuriken used against walkers must be expertly and powerfully thrown. Against walkers, only a deep and penetrating strike in the cranial cavity stops them. This makes them far less effective than easier to use and learn weapons such as crossbows or bows and arrows.

There are small throwing knives called Kunai which might be a bit more acceptable because their shape allows them to double as a small knife about the same size as knives we see being used on the show.

As a weapon, it is larger and heavier than a shuriken and with the grip could also be used in hand to hand combat more readily than a shuriken. In addition, it could be used for climbing, either as a kind of grappling hook or as a piton.

There are several varieties of kunai, including short kunai, long kunai, narrow bladed types, saw-toothed types and wide-bladed types. In some cases, the kunai and the shikoro, a wide-bladed saw with a dagger-type handle, are hard if not impossible to distinguish. The kunai blade can be used to gouge holes in a door to take out doorknobs.

  • I posit that even if Kunai were available, almost no one would risk throwing their weapon in a fight unless they were in a closed space and could recover it. And certainly no one would throw their weapon if it was the only one they had.

  • I can see kunai being used and even made as a survivalist weapon but given the tools available, I can't see anyone throwing one unless it was a matter of life and death.

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    I dunno, the skulls seem pretty soft and easily penetrated. What about throwing knives then? – Finnball Oct 29 '14 at 0:47
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    This! The significant value of the shuriken was certainly psychological - remember that before modern antibiotics, even being scratched by a piece of rusty iron gave a good chance of tetanus, so you didn't need a lethal strike to be highly dangerous and to put off pursuit. Against zombies you probably do need a lethal strike. – glenatron Oct 29 '14 at 13:03
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    Adult skulls are not soft, people can take a surprising amount of hits to the head before it breaks. Even then, you'll be kill by the brain bruising of the blunt force trauma before the skull cracks. – user20155 Oct 29 '14 at 22:28
  • Adult skulls in The Walking Dead appear to be soft and brittle, compared to real world skulls. We've seen plenty of occasions where small knives and blunt instruments have been used to puncture the skull with little to no resistance from the bone. – Kwola-T Nov 9 '14 at 11:55
  • While they may be softer than normal human skulls, they still would not be worth the effort of most smaller shuriken. Only the larger kunai would be worth the effort to use. Considering how much time it would take to make them, throwing them outdoors has to be a matter of life and death (no to mention considerable skill). – Thaddeus Howze Nov 10 '14 at 1:56

Historically, shurikens were used almost always as a method of distraction and/or escape rather than as a primary weapon. They were very niche weapons (but ninja were very niche), and were used most often in surprise attacks; actually killing a target with one was unlikely under almost any circumstances.

Zombies can't be distracted or hurt by wounds or even consciousness of potential wounds, which is important when using weapons meant to catch an enemy off-guard.

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    Precisely... they wouldn't just throw one with great aim, they'd throw a handful that would spread, hoping to hit their target as they fled. Caltrops and smoke bombs are also used. – Gary Hayes Oct 29 '14 at 17:41
  • @GaryHayes Yes, this is an older version of the PDM type devices we occasionally use today. Offensively it could be used with poison, but there are more effective ways to deliver poison. The basic combat rule in the past was the same as it is today: when being offensive, be aggressively offensive. When defensive, leave if possible. – zxq9 Oct 30 '14 at 13:27

Maybe a bunch of people did choose shurikens when they ran into the sporting goods store. I reckon the reason you don't see anyone whipping them at zombies in the show is because they all died on day one...

All of this is assuming you are not actually a ninja assassin

If you miss with a shuriken, that shriken is now about a quarter mile away... they are light and they are tiny. You're not gonna find it! Most combat in TWD takes place in forests or fields, your shuriken is gone forever the second it leaves you hand.

And think about the comparative effort of firing a crossbow and throwing a shurikens all day, you index finger might get sore with the crossbow, so you might have trouble pointing at things... but you're gonna pop your shoulder out if your throwing shurikens all day.

And it'd be a pain carrying you shuriken supply everywhere, unless you have a special shuriken carrying case. They're gonna cut up everything else in your bag and / or stab you repeatedly. In the movies, ninjas usually have a few for each mission, but you could be on the road for weeks with zombies everywhere, you're gonna need a bunch.

You'll need the zombie to be pretty close (or have Batman level skills) to land a lethal hit with a shuriken.

Most importantly of all: If there's only one seat left in the car, and the driver has to choose between the guy with the crossbow and the guy with the shurikens... shuriken guy is walking.

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    Also, depending on how infectious the zombies are, accidentally cutting yourself on a used shuriken's edge would be a supremely ironic way to die. – Shadur Oct 30 '14 at 10:29
  • @Shadur Exactly! Eventually your gonna cut you hand or roll over on one in your sleep. And you know one of your group will sit on one at some stage... shuriken guy would not be very popular in a zombie apocalypse. – Daft Oct 30 '14 at 11:23

Aside from their lack of practicality against zombies, their existence would be relatively rare in their world. Most of the weapons used in the show were common to them and easily obtainable. The exception to this would be Michonne's katana. Since there is only one katana around, then it would be safe to assume that they are also rare and specialized weapons. Michonne may have had access to other Japanese style weapons near the beginning, but chose to stick with her katana. This adds evidence that shuriken were not effective in killing zombies.

Perhaps if the show was centered in Japan, these kind of weapons would have been more commonly used.

  • You could make them and practice with them all day long. They wouldn't have anything better to do all day long – Finnball Oct 29 '14 at 14:09
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    @Finnball sure, I guess they could make their own if they had the time and resources. I disagree that they have nothing better to do all day long. Most of their time is taken up by foraging for food, and protecting themselves from walkers and other humans. – Jason Hutchinson Oct 29 '14 at 14:20
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    Sidebar about Michonne's katana, I don't know about the tv show but in the comics she got it from her neighbor's house after everything went bad. She knew they had it because the kid would use it outside occasionally. – numaroth Oct 29 '14 at 14:27
  • @numaroth that may have been the same in the series. I couldn't recall offhand how she obtained it. If the kid had a katana, then he may have had other weapons as well. – Jason Hutchinson Oct 29 '14 at 14:49
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    @JasonHutchinson That is completely possible. I wasn't trying to contradict, just add context. – numaroth Oct 29 '14 at 15:03

Disclaimer: I haven't seen a single piece of "Walking Dead"...

These are weapons made from a sizeable piece of metal, requiring significant manufacturing (smithing, sharpening). As such, they are much more "expensive" than e.g. a broadhead arrow.

As any projectile weapon, "reusable" only applies if:

  • you win the field of battle, so you can actually recover projectiles (as opposed to having to flee);
  • you actually find the buggers; it can be surprisingly difficult to find something tossed into the undergrowth a couple of steps away, let alone something thrown in the heat of battle and not seeing where it lands.

Plus, they have a pretty limited effective range as well as very limited penetration.

I suggest you get your hands on some of these weapons and try to throw them at a piece of soft wood. You will find that it is pretty difficult to get either a Shuriken or a Kunai to even stick. A surprising number of throws will bounce, because you fail to hit the target with enough force and the right angle.

It's also not easy to hit a specific point on the target. You will have a hard time even hitting a person at a couple of steps' distance.

(If you cannot get your hands on a Shuriken, try throwing a frisbee forcefully so it strikes a specific point of the target while horizontal... same thing, basically.)


  • Expensive / difficult to produce
  • High chance of losing the weapon in battle
  • Limited range
  • Limited penetration
  • Much skill required to use effectively
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    My choice would be a good longbow. Can be built with much more primitive tools. If you lose an arrow it's not that much of an issue. You can carry many arrows much easier than many knives / shuriken. You get much better range, penetration, and precision. It's also easier to become a good archer than getting good with thrown projectiles. – DevSolar Oct 29 '14 at 16:15
  • Longbows require crazy amounts of muscle. English skeletons from the era are quite heavily disfigured thanks to the longbow training. A modern composite bow would be much easier to manage, and something akin to Mongol rider-bows would probably work quite well too. Longbows were able to penetrate several layers of armour when used the right way - that's a huge overkill against zombies :D – Luaan Oct 30 '14 at 14:17
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    @Luaan: What's requiring muscle or not is the draw of the bow, not the design. Pulling a 40 lbs longbow requires the same force as a 40 lbs short recurve, and doesn't take the insane training medieval 120 lbs bows required. Those were meant to fire clout at armored targets... -- Building a longbow yourself is easier than building a recurve shortbow, or a composite. But looking at WD screenshots, it seems that getting your hand at fabric-built weapons (a.k.a. "guns") is not that difficult, so yes, a modern composite would be a nice weapon choice as well. – DevSolar Oct 30 '14 at 14:56
  • Well, yeah, but a pulley-bow would give you more power using the same draw, among other benefits, which is what I meant. A recurve can be a lot smaller for the same draw as well, which helps in constrained environments. I assumed you meant the 120lbs+ level longbow, which would be crazy. – Luaan Oct 30 '14 at 15:31

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